What's the Worst Way To Die?
The thought of being lit on fire, crushed to death or drowning are probably what comes to mind when you imagine what the most awful ways to go are. But there's actually a few unexpected methods that are much worse than you may think.
Dissolving in a Volcano
Yellowstone National Park may be sitting atop the world’s most famous supervolcano, but clearly, that’s not all there is to it. Yes, this volcano may be dormant right now — although, experts speculate it'll erupt within the next 100,000 years — its geothermal system of geysers and hot springs are anything but quiet.
Aside from these geothermal pools always being hot, they switch between being fairly alkaline or incredibly acidic, with water temperatures always bubbling just below the boiling point. Falling into them is not recommended, but every now and then someone does, often due to putting bravado over common sense.
In 2016, a 23-year-old man fell into one of the pools within Norris Geyser Basin. Unfortunately (or fortunately, based on how you view painless deaths), the superheated, extremely acidic waters gave him third degree burns upon contact (aka full thickness), which resulted in all three layers of his skin to be damaged, blackened, leatherized (cringe), and ripped apart. His subcutaneous fat would have boiled away too. Weirdly, this part would have caused the least amount of pain since his nerve endings would've burned instantly. His body would quickly succumb to extreme heat shock and potentially start bleeding, although it’s unclear what killed him first.
A Dull Guillotine
Being a popular form of execution in history — with the French using it extensively — it sounds like an easy way to go, but these events didn't always go as planned.
Sometimes the blade wasn't as sharp as it needed to be, or the force wasn't enough to cleanly sever the spinal chord, so the person being decapitated would end up with a partially removed head, which resulted in extreme agony. Countless stories have told the tales of guillotines and axes that were unable to complete the job in one blow, leaving the executed there in excruciating pain, crying, screaming and sometimes even still praying. Yikes!
That’s not to mention the stories of disembodied heads that retain consciousness for some time after separation from their bodies. Some say a head remains alive for 30 seconds, some say only three to five seconds, but that’s still too long to be bodiless and in agonizing pain.
While most of you may think the nails in the hands and feet would be the worst part of being crucified, but what happened afterwards is much, much worse.
When a person is nailed to a cross, they’ll instinctively try to support their weight on their injured hands and feet, but eventually their strength gives out. As their legs fail, their arms are pulled from their sockets and the chest hangs downward. This makes it impossible to fully exhale, while allows carbon dioxide levels in the body to increase until you suffocate.
This whole process could take hours, if not days, and was a source of entertainment for the Romans. They’d wage on how long people would last, and sometimes, if they were feeling humane, they’d speed along the process by just killing them.
If you're interested in learning more about death and why humans have such a hard time coming to terms with it, check out our new podcast episode!